Freedom in Christ

Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don't submit again to a yoke of slavery.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

-Galatians 5:1 (HCSB, NIV, NKJV)

Freedom in Christ

Christians are free.  Set free and changed.  This happened through the cross of Christ.

We need to know that following Christ does not put us or bring us under the law.  We have to say this because there have always been people who teach that we need to come, dwell, or abide in, under, or through the law to be saved.

We are now free to live in Christ, desiring to serve God, in love.

The center and the life of Christianity is the person of Christ.  The life of Christ in me makes me a Christian and his life in me desires righteousness and lives the godly life.

Living in Christ

The freedom of Galatians 5:1 is predicated on, is based on, and comes out of the life of Christ and the death of me.  Galatians 2:20 says,
"I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but the life of Christ lives in me.  The life I now live in the body, I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  
We are not saved and become Christians so that we can now finally obey the law, but we come to Christ and die to our selves and he begins living through our lives.

Our freedom, our liberty, is now in the resurrection life of Christ, in our lives.  We are set free to live freely in Christ.  That is the life of love.

Freedom to love

The whole law which Christ kept is summed up in, "You shall love your neighbor as your self" (Gal. 5:14).  The freedom in Christ is to love others (Gal. 5:13).

Before Christ, the law was given for people who do not wish to be righteous, to force them into righteous living.  We now have liberty from religious legalism imposed on us.  God wants us to take His strength and walk in freedom.

This is different than legalism, which is being bound to the law, which attempts to bring us into a righteous life, from the outside.

Freedom from the Law and freedom from sin

Freedom and liberty are not for us to do anything we want, not denying our selves any desire, 'living large' in some sort of life with no boundaries.  The liberty or freedom in Christ is freedom from the tyranny of having to work our way to God and freedom from sin.  He set us free so that we do not need to find our righteousness by following of rules, laws, or codes.

He is our righteousness.

Freedom in Christ is not a door way to selfishness (Gal. 5:13).  Freedom in Christ is about your having Christ and He having you, and your freedom to live out your life, learning to live in love (Gal 5:13).

The works of the flesh, just like the desire to live under the domination of the Law, are both what we are set free from.  We are freed to live free.  We stand in freedom and live by the Spirit.

The free life is now lived by service to others in love (Gal. 5:13).  The freedom is so free that there is a temptation to sin in the flesh, which is another form on slavery or bondage.  This is why Paul says, "stand firm" in your place of freedom, and "follow the Spirit" ("keep in step with the Spirit").

The life in Christ of standing in freedom and following the Spirit

There are 'some-things' that we must do, and there is someone (the Spirit) that we need to cultivate a relationship with, to walk out the Christian life.  Jesus indeed does not leave us as orphans (John 14:18).  We ought not live as orphans who don't belong, but live belonging and loved and guided, helped, and comforted by the Spirit.

The freedom comes through the cross and the living out of Christ comes by the Spirit.  One cannot avoid the cross nor avoid the Spirit and be a Christian.  A Christian is one who has been to the cross and lives by the Spirit.

Rules are good, boundaries are good.  God created rules and boundaries.  It is a problem or an enslavement when we begin to tell ourselves or tell others how well they are walking with God based on following rules (Gal. 2:4).  Freedom is within boundaries and within Christ.

However, if we see or experience that someone is walking in sin, we know that they are not living in Christ and we can call them back to Christ, lovingly.  Lovingly, lovingly, lovingly.  Some 'Christians' rebuke, judge, and try to fix people; before loving or instead of loving them.  This is not love.  This must change.

We are free in Christ through the cross.  We need to stand firm in that freedom, from Law and from sinfulness.  We stay free and live free through walking with the Spirit of God.

Notes: An overview of Galatians from G. W. Hansen:

  • Freedom and unity in Christ are central themes in Galatians.
  • Paul addresses Christians whose preoccupation with keeping the Law was splitting their churches along racial lines, separating Jews from Gentiles.
    • These splits are intolerable because the new unity in Christ (Gal. 3:28) that transcends racial, social, and sexual barriers; is based upon the "truth of the gospel" (Gal. 2:5): Christ was crucified to set us free from the curse of the Law so that we might receive his Spirit (Gal. 3:13-14).
      • It is the Spirit, not the Law, that gives us our identity as children of God (Gal 4:6).
      • Believers must protect their freedom from the Law (Gal. 5:1) and also use their freedom to fulfill the law by serving one another through love (Gal. 5:13-14).
      • We are no longer under the Law that divides;  we are under the Spirit who unites.
  • The central teachings of Galatians are freedom through the cross and unity by the Spirit.
    • Complimentary themes in Galatians are:
      • Paul's account of his calling to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:13-16).
      • Paul's story of his loyalty to the gospel for the Gentiles in relation to the other apostles (Gal. 1:17-2:21).
      • An explanation of justification by faith, not by works of the Law (Gal. 2:15, 3:6-12).
      • An exposition on OT texts regarding the Abrahamic promise and the Mosaic law in the context of salvation history (Gal. 3:6-25,; 4:21-31).
      • A defining of Christian ethics, in terms of the flesh and the Spirit (Gal. 5:13-10).

The message of Galatians is, "stand firm" for freedom in Christ by "keeping in step with the Spirit".

- G. W. Hansen: Galatians, Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, IVP, 1993. pp. 323-334